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Watch NZH Local Focus: Who designed the Maori flag?

By Jaden McLeod

Linda Munn was there the day the Tino Rangatiratanga flag was created.

She says it was all about trying to re-engage Māori with the issues facing their culture.

"It was a way of trying to bring everyone back in. Trying to find something that would be a symbol that Maori could fly that was our own."

Ms Munn is the last-surviving member of a trio of women - including Jan Dobson and Hiraina Marsden - who conceptualised the flag in October 1989.

"I think we were quite naive back then, I know I was. Jan was probably the most experienced, she was awesome, she was always a mobiliser."

"On the final day, we were sitting in Ahipara in Jan's house. The final drawings came out and I just sat there drawing them out, editing them. Before you know it, Jan and I were sitting up at three in the morning sewing Tino flags."

But the flag was met with backlash from many parts of society.

"People said it was a protest flag. It was a flag that was made out of love and unity," says Ms Munn.

"Even our own people didn't like it. But I think Tino was more relevant for the coming generations. We now have two generations of people who have grown up with that. It's been in their psyche for the last 20... nearly 30 years actually!"

She says the core values of the flag extend to all members of New Zealand society.

"We all want a life where we can be safe, warm, and able to make our own choices about what we want to do, where we want to live, and not be dictated to by poverty, unemployment and homelessness. We were probably quite idealistic, but I still think that that's relevant to everybody, not just Māori."

Ms Munn says she finds it difficult being the last surviving member of the kaitiaki or guardians of the flag.

But it's a role which has fueled her creativity ever since.

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- NZ Herald

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